What Are Naturalization Papers?

By Kate Bluest
Many people still immigrate to the United States every year with hopes of becoming citizens.
Thomas Northcut/Stockbyte/Getty Images

Naturalization papers, also known as Certificates of Naturalization, prove that a person not born in the United States has become a naturalized United States citizen. The process to get naturalization papers can take up to six months from when you first file your application for naturalization.

Benefits of Naturalization Papers

Citizens with naturalization papers are eligible to vote. They can petition to bring family members permanently into the country. They can get a United States passport and if they have problems in another country, they can utilize the services of the United States Embassy in that country. Naturalized citizens can hold elected office and apply for federal jobs.

Residency Requirements

You must be a permanent resident of the United States for five years, or if you are married to a United States citizen, you must be a permanent resident for three years. During that three or five year period, you cannot take any trips outside the country that last six months or longer. Permanent residents must live in the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or UCIS, district in which they apply for residence at least three months before applying. War veterans do not need to be permanent residents to apply for naturalization.

Character Requirements

You must demonstrate good moral character. Factors considered in determining your good moral character include your honesty on your application and during your interview. If you have a criminal record, the USCIS will consider it in determining your good moral character.

English Requirements

Permanent residents must be able to understand, speak, read and write simple words or phrases in English. Older people who have lived in the United States for at least 15 years may not need to take the English test.

Steps to get Naturalization Papers

Read "A Guide to Naturalization" and complete the eligibility worksheet. Complete the USCIS' Application for Naturalization form N-400. Take two identification photos and collect any required documents. Make a copy of the photos and documents for your records. Send the application, photos, documents and fee to the designated USCIS lockbox address. You will receive a fingerprint appointment letter from USCIS. Go in and get fingerprinted. Mail any additional documents requested by the USCIS. The USCIS will schedule an interview with you. Go to your interview bringing state-issued identification, your Permanent Residence card and any other requested documents. Answer the interviewer's questions and take the English and civics test. The USCIS will send your case status to you in the mail and assign you a ceremony date. You will check in at the ceremony, return your Permanent Resident Card and answer more interview questions about your activities since your last interview. You will then take the Oath of Allegiance and receive your Certificate of Naturalization, also known as your naturalization papers.

The Oath of Allegiance

The oath of allegiance requires naturalization candidates to renounce foreign allegiances, support the constitution and serve the United States.

About the Author

Based in New York, Kate Bluest has been writing for various online publications since 2005. She has participated in several writing workshops, including the MIT Writing Workshop. Bluest holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration from SUNY Empire State College.